On June 15-16, 2023, the Department of Economics and Management of the University of Luxembourg (Faculty of Law, Economics, and Finance) hosted the inaugural Benelux Political Economy Conference (PECO). The aim of this cross-disciplinary conference, co-organised with the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Erasmus University Rotterdam, is to bring together a community of top economists and political scientists from the world’s leading universities and provide an opportunity for them to discuss cutting-edge research in political economy:
- How do government institutions shape economic policy?
- How can they help, or hamper, policymakers in facing the many challenges and uncertainties of a rapidly changing world (political polarisation, conflicts, climate change, technological progress, inequality,…)?
- How could those institutions be improved?
These are among the many pressing questions that scholars of government from economics and political science are well suited to answer. Initiated by Vincent Anesi, professor within the Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance, the aim of Benelux PECO is to create a European counterpart to the existing Washington PECO, in facilitating stronger interdisciplinary cooperations among the world’s leading experts on government and public policy to make progress on such issues.
This year’s conference was attended by around 40 participants from some the most-established institutions in the world – such as Chicago, Harvard, New York, Princeton, and Stockholm Universities, to name a few. For the inaugural events, a variety of topics were selected, and from discussed from a large variety of perspectives, ranging from microeconomic theory to empirical analysis, and to experimental methods.
It began with keynote presentations on international negotiations in contexts of uncertainty by Professors Germán Gieczewski (Princeton University), gerrymandering by Laurent Bouton (Georgetown University), and the political representation of working-class people by Johanna Rickne (Stockholm University), which were then discussed by leading experts such as Andrea Mattozzi (University of Bologna) and Irma Clots-Figueras (University of Kent). On the second day, Professor Alessandra Casella (Columbia University) presented a new approach to study complex politico-economic environments both from theoretical and experimental viewpoints. Alessandro Lizzeri (Princeton University) then discussed how governments should engage in policy experiments. The conference finally concluded with an analysis of the sources of partisan policymaking by Professor Wioletta Dziuda (University of Chicago). Their findings were then “dissected” by experts such as Professors Galina Zudenkova (Dortmund University), Salvatore Nunnari (Bocconi University), and Santiago Oliveros (University of Bristol).
This extremely successful inaugural event, with a high-profile lineup and important scientific contributions, also served to showcase the University of Luxembourg as an important contributor to research in political economy. It was the ideal springboard for the next conferences to be held in Brussels in 2024, and in Rotterdam in 2025.